Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Old Forester Binny's Private Selection Barrel Strength Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon


- $70
- 130.4 Proof
- Whse. I, Fl. 5
- Kentucky

This is possibly the longest time that I've had a single bottle of whiskey open. I always keep notes in my notes app on my phone, so I know which ones have been open the longest, because those are the notes that are entered first. This one has been at the top of my notes for a very long time. And really, the only reason is that I just didn't want it to be gone. I've been just sitting on those last few pours, but on a whim last night I decided this is what I wanted.

For a moment there, it seemed these Old Forester barrel strength single barrels were at least semi-available. I remember getting a couple from two different stores within days of each other.  And then that was it. I haven't come across any more of these since then, which perhaps is partly why I held onto this one for so long.

The nose was a rich and sweet dessert, very much like a pecan pie or even a turtle bar. It had notes of chocolate and pecan, as well as a sweet maple syrup note to it. It had a bit of a pastry note as well as some rich caramel. I even got some root beer notes off it at times.

As to flavor, my first note was that it was "warm and inviting."  I no longer know what I meant by that when I typed that note, but this is a very delicious and warming bourbon that packs a punch with heat, but not overly so. 

The pecan pie that I got on the nose very much carried through on the palate. It had that nuttiness to it, the rich caramel-like flavor of the goo in the middle of the pie, and even a bit of sweet pie crust to it. Pecan pie is one of my favorite desserts, and for that reason alone I absolutely loved this whiskey. There was also this consistent chocolate note, somewhere between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, that seemed to underscore everything else, almost as a base layer, adding just a touch more richness and sweetness to everything.

On the finish, aside from that warm pecan pie note, I also got a sort of a cooked cherry flavor, dark and rich, and spiced up a bit with some cinnamon, or even cloves, as well as a bit of black pepper.  I have no idea as to the age of this whiskey (I'm guessing 6-8 years), but it also had a bit of an oak note, which provided a sort of drying, tannic quality on the finish.

I've heard people refer to whiskey's as "dessert whiskeys" before, and while I don't tend to use that term, I think here it applies, mainly because it so much reminded me of one particular dessert. I couldn't get past it, which was just fine with me, because I loved every sip.

Grade: A

Monday, September 12, 2022

Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Batch 01/03

- $170
- 125.6 Proof
- Batch 01/03
- Kentucky

This is one of my favorite purchases I can recall.  When these came out, I honestly knew very little about them. I didn't read any of the press releases, and I really hadn't paid any attention to reviews. One day, however, they hit my store and my guy gave me a call and asked if I wanted one. I honestly didn't know if I did or not, and I certainly second-guessed the price given the lack of any age statement.

But, at that point I started doing my homework. I learned that there were three different batches of the 150th anniversary, each blended from a batch of about 50 barrels and each batch being blended to its own, unique profile. This particular batch, Batch 01/03 was blended to achieve more of a rich, spicy, dark fruit-forward profile, which sounded absolutely incredible. So, I was sold, and I called him back to hold my spot for one.  After I purchased my bottle, I invited him to my office after work, where he and I were both completely wowed by this bottle!

The nose absolutely hit that as-described profile. I immediately got notes of chocolate and walnut. There was also a dark cherry note on the nose, almost like a Luxardo cherry. I also got a decent amount of rich oak, but without any of those bitter tannic notes.

The flavor was a rich and decadent mix of dark fruits, including dark cherry and blackberry, which all seemed to commingle with a rich (yes, I'm using that word a lot here) dark chocolate note. It tasted like a dessert you might order at a very fancy and very expensive restaurant.

Despite its proof, the heat on this bourbon was very minimal, yet it absolutely maintained a nice, thick viscosity.  Accordingly, what heat that was there was well-balanced by a rich, molasses like sweetness. That sweet and dark note paired with the constant dark fruit notes only further led to that super expensive dessert experience.

The finish provided a bit of a peppery spice to go along with the dark cherry, and thanks to the high proof, those two notes, which went great together, also stuck around for a really long time. In fact, it felt as though I had just eaten a bourbon-soaked cherry and that flavor just lingered. It was kind of like eating the Luxardo cherry after finishing an Old Fashioned, only more bourbon-soaked.

This is one of the best bottles I've enjoyed in a long time. For a while I was saving the last few pours, and then I decided that I couldn't bear it any more, and family movie night became as good an excuse as any to polish this off. And I'm so glad I did, because this was an absolutely amazing bourbon.

Grade: A+

Saturday, September 10, 2022

1792 Binny's Single Barrel Select Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Barrel #7147

- $45
- 100 Proof
- 4 Years
- Barrel #7147
- Kentucky

With so many different store picks available these days, particularly at stores like Binny's where they are getting 6-10 barrels at a time for some products, I find myself passing on store picks far more than I used to. In fact, under normal circumstances, there's a good chance I would have passed on this particular bottle. That's not due to the fact that it doesn't interest me, just more to the fact that there are so many other bottles out there that interest me more.

However, one of the guys that went on the trip to pick this barrel, among others, suggested that this was one of the better barrels he tasted during the trip, and that if I could find one I should definitely grab it. And so, taking his sage-like advice, when I did come across one, I made sure to bring it home with me.

On the nose I got a lemon grass note right away, which was unexpected. That paired with a bit of an orange peel note as well, providing some vibrancy as well as a touch of bitterness. Those bright notes seemed to be immediately followed by a rich, sweet caramel, as well as a sweet pastry note. The smell on this was great, even if a bit different. 

The flavor profile on this one was interesting in that it seemed to completely change part way through. At first I wasn't the biggest fan. It came across as very herbal forward, almost grassy in flavor (but not the bright lemongrass note I got on the nose). There was also a musty, dusty quality to it. Behind all that was a sort of peanut note as well, and the combination of all of these notes just had a sort of herbal, stale peanut thing going.

However, at some point part way through the bottle the profile seemed to change, and significantly so. That herbal note seemed to almost go away entirely, and even that dusty note became more subdued. Instead, I got soft and sweet notes, with vanilla and maple, and even sweet pastry notes. It reminded me of the maple glaze you would get on a donut.

On the finish, that maple sweetness really seemed to stick around. However, on earlier pours it seemed to compete with that pervasive herbal note. Luckily, that herbal note disappeared on the finish on later pours as well.  There was also a light medicinal cherry note on the finish that seemed to stick in the back of my throat. It was interesting, but I'm not sure I was fond of it. 

This Jekyl and Hyde bottle was certainly better in later pours than earlier pours. At first I wasn't so sure I liked it, but at the end I found myself reaching for it over and over until it was gone. It was really kind of a weird bottle in that way.

Grade: B

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Blanton's Binny's Single Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Barrel No. 016

- $80
-93 Proof
- Barrel No. 016
- Kentucky

It's been a while since I've gone back to Blanton's.  In fact, this bottle hit Binny's shelves sometime in 2020, and I just now got around to finishing it. I can't exactly say for sure why. Perhaps I grew tired of Blanton's (not likely). Perhaps there was just always something new to try (more likely). Either way, I went a pretty good amount of time before going back to this bottle.

But, a couple weeks ago I got it in my that I could use some old reliable mashbill #2, and I reached for this Binny's store pick that I got a few years back. In fact, by this point I had kind of forgotten whether this was a standout or not, or even what kind of profile it had. It was kind of fun, actually, revisiting it with no recall of my impressions before.

On the nose I got a slight aroma of charred wood. Weirdly, though, it came across as sweet, almost a sugary char, kind of like the char you get from burnt barbecue sauce when you grill.  I also got a nice cinnamon note as well as some brown sugar. There was also a pastry-like pie-crust note to this as well, and it all came together as a very dessert-like nose.

I did not, however, get any of that char note on the palate. Rather, the backbone here was caramel and cinnamon. There was also a sort of unsweetened vanilla layer underscoring everything, but the sweetness came from those caramel notes.

There was also something jammy to this, with notes of rich, dark fruits like raisin and raspberry, and maybe even some fig. There was also a sort of chocolate covered pretzel note to it, with a sweet, chocolatey flavor along with a salty cracker-like note. This combo of the dark fruits and the chocolate covered pretzel was pretty awesome.

On the finish, I got more of that cracker note, and perhaps even a bit of a cereal note. It definitely became grain forward, as what little spice seemed to disappear, and even the sweetness was fleeting. This came across as more of a watery mouthfeel than other Blanton's I've had, and it led to almost no lingering finish whatsoever.

Give this barrel some proof and some viscosity, and it's amazing! The flavor combinations were fantastic, but it just came across as thin and watery, not allowing me to really savor those flavors like I wanted to.

Grade: B

Friday, September 2, 2022

Proof and Wood The Stranger Polish Rye Whiskey

- $65
- 105 Proof
- 7 Years
- Poland/Kentucky

Ever had a whiskey that sounds more like a solo sex act? Well, now I can say I have! There was a lot about this bottle that interested me, including the innuendo in the name, whether intentional or not. I don't have any experience with Polish rye whiskey, so that along had me interested. Throw in that it was aged in ex-bourbon and ex-rye barrels for seven years, and I knew I had to give it a try.

Proof and Wood has been putting out some decent stuff lately, at least what I've had. So, at $65, I knew I wanted to give this one a chance. After all, I haven't met many ryes that I haven't liked. And considering I'm usually just drinking my whiskey by myself on my couch, a whiskey called "The Stranger" just seemed apropos.

The nose was full of rich spice. I got a lot of cinnamon stick, as well as a rich dark chocolate note behind it. I did get a bit of pecan, as well as something pastry-like, perhaps like a pie crust. Interestingly, I also got a decent amount of oak, which carried with it those bitter tannic notes.

The flavor was interesting and certainly different than most ryes I've tried, and yet very enjoyable. I got a very healthy dose of pine and resin up front. It certainly had a bit of an earthy, musty and dusty quality to it. There was even a slight char note that I really enjoyed.

The cinnamon spice was certainly there as well. This was definitely on the spicier end of the spectrum. That cinnamon spice at times seemed to become more of a cloves note, and there was also something a bit more biting, kind of like a ginger note.

There was a rich sweetness behind all of these note, like a molasses flavor. That carried with it a cherry note that combined to make a sort of spiced, candied cherry note. That notes seemed to carry through on the finish, along with some of the oak that I was getting on the nose (but without the tannins) and a bit of peppery spice to finish it off.

Like I said above, this was on the spicier end of the spectrum, which I appreciated. However, there were rich, flavorful notes behind that spice that made this really bold but really enjoyable! I may have to give Polish rye another try!

Grade: B+